Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “myth” in the following way: MYTH – a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; an unfounded or false notion; a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence.  In our nation and culture we have many popular myths, things that are only imaginary and cannot be proven to actually exist.  Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are two such myths. Even as popular as they are, there is another myth that is even more accepted and multitudes of people are actually convinced of its reality, even though like all other myths, it is imaginary and cannot be proven to actually exist.  This is the Great American Myth!

Current statistics reveal that approximately 96% of all Americans say that they believe in God and 82% of all American adults call themselves Christians.  This means that a vast majority of Americans believe that if there is a heaven, they are certainly going there when they die. Let’s compare this incredibly prevalent belief with something that Jesus said in the Bible.  Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (hell), and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (heaven), and only a few find it.”  America should find these words of Jesus both interesting and alarming.  Popular American opinion tells us today that most of us will go to heaven while only a relatively few people will spend eternity in hell.  According to the words of Jesus we find that just the opposite will happen! This conflict between popular American opinion and the prophetic warnings of Jesus should clearly indicate that someone is deceived.  

Jesus has warned us about such a massive and subtle deception that will be revealed on the day that God will judge each person, deciding whether a person will be sentenced to hell or given access into heaven.  Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me you evildoers!”  

Notice that Jesus used the word “many” to describe the amount of people who thought they were going to heaven only to be eternally horrified to find out they were sentenced to eternal torment in hell.  Many of those people will spend eternity in unimaginable torment because they believed in The Great American Myth.

What is the Great American Myth?

The Great American Myth is “good people”.  Most likely no one would claim to be perfect.  Yet most people would consider themselves to be a good person.  The Bible even tells us of this tendency, Proverbs 20:6 (KJV) “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness…”.  The idea that most often goes along with this philosophy is that all “good people” go to heaven, and only “bad people” go to hell.  Since most people would consider themselves to be a good person, we can understand why most Americans think that they are Christians and are headed for heaven.  This would also seem to explain why most people don’t concern themselves about Jesus and the Bible. To them there is no need to worry about death and eternal Judgment.  WRONG!

A “good person” is a myth, something that is imaginary and having an unverifiable existence.  According to Jesus Christ there is no such thing as a “good person”. Mark 10:17-18 “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him.  ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered, ‘No one is good – except God alone.”  Notice what Jesus said.  He didn’t say that no one was perfect, he said that no one is good – except God.

The reason that America and Jesus have such different conceptions of “good people” is because they each use a different standard of judgment.  Most people use other people to determine whether they are a “good person” or not. When we compare ourselves to mass murderers, rapists, child molesters and other people who commit horrible acts of violence and crime we think we look quite good.  This is where our deception takes place. Our standard for judging people is not the same as God’s. God won’t compare us to anyone, but rather we will be judged according to His Law, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

God declares that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23).  Sin is defined in the Bible as violating God’s Law (I John 3:4).  A different standard of judgment can change everything. Other people may make us look “good”, but God’s Law shows us what we really look like.  Quit comparing yourself to others and take an honest look into the mirror of God’s Law. Let’s go through them and see how you do, or rather let’s see how you look.

1. You shall have no other gods before me

Has God always been first in your priorities and affections?  Have you ever valued anything more than God in your life, possibly your family, job, pleasures or possessions?  Are you innocent or guilt

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol

This means that we shouldn’t make a god to suit ourselves, either with our hands or our minds.  Do you believe in a god that is different from the God of the Bible? Do you have a belief in a god that overlooks your sins and will not count them against you?  If you do then you have made an idol in your mind and no idolater can enter the kingdom of heaven.

3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God

Have you ever used the name of God or Jesus to swear or express disgust?  Have you ever used the name of God like a four-letter filth word? If you have done this you are guilty of blasphemy and will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy

Have you always set aside one day out of seven to honor and praise God?  Are you guilty of breaking this commandment?

5. Honor your father and mother

Have you always honored and respected your parents?  Ask God to remind you of the sins of your youth. You may have forgotten them but God has not.

6. You shall not commit murder

This commandment does not only mean the taking of a person’s physical life.  Jesus taught that if a person hates someone else they are guilty of the sin of murder.  We can violate God’s Law by attitude and intent as well as by our actions.

7. You shall not commit adultery

Have you always had pure thoughts?  Jesus said that if we look at a person and have sexual lust and thoughts in our mind then we are guilty of the sin of adultery.  The Bible tells us that the impure, fornicators (those who have sex before marriage) and adulterers will not enter heaven.

8. You shall not steal

Have you ever taken anything that belonged to someone else, irrespective of its value?  Regardless of the value of what was stolen, you are a thief and are guilty.

9. You shall not lie

Have you ever told a lie?  Then you are a liar. How many times do you have to tell a lie to be a liar?  Just once. The Bible warns that all liars will have a place in the lake of fire.  You may not think that deceitfulness is a serious sin, but God does!

10. You shall not covet

This means that we shouldn’t desire anything that belongs to another person.  The covetous will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Well, after judging yourself by God’s standard, how do you look?  Do you still look like a “good person”, or do you see yourself as you are, a sinner deserving the wrath and judgment of God?  Do you now understand why God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world? Do you see why Jesus, even though He never once violated any of the Ten Commandments, willingly chose to die on a cross, a form of Roman capital punishment reserved only for criminals?  Jesus died a criminal’s death not because He had broken the Law, but because we had! What incredible love and mercy to save us from justified wrath and punishment. Romans 5:8 “…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  

What should you do?  Be honest with God and confess your sins to Him.  Repent, turn from your sins and put your complete trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.  Put your faith in Jesus the same way you would put your faith in a parachute if you had to jump from a burning plane in midair.  You wouldn’t just “believe” the parachute would help you, you would grab hold of it and put it on. That parachute would be your most valued and precious possession, nothing in the entire world would compare to it, because you know it is the only thing that will save you from sure destruction.  You need to do the same with the Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you don’t know how to pray read Psalm 51 and make it your own prayer.  Once you’ve made peace with God begin to read the Bible daily and obey what you read.

By the way, someone cared about you enough to give you this tract.  Show God you love others by doing the same. Share what has happened in your life with someone else and help destroy The Great American Myth!